Monday, August 31, 2009
What is it about birthdays?
I'm not really sure where my fascination with and love for birthday celebrations come from, but I actually don't have a lot of memories of early birthdays in my life. I know we celebrated them, though, because I've seen several pictures of me from when I turned two; there I am blowing out two candles in one picture and in another I'm banging away on the little mini piano I got as my gift.
I have another picture of me when I turned four. We lived in Corsicana, Texas, and the picture shows me sitting in front of a pink cake; I'm surrounded by three other cute little girls from the neighborhood.
I don't have any specific memories from those celebrations, though, but I wish I did. They looked like good times with good friends.
The first birthday party I have vivid memories of is the one my parents let me have when I turned thirteen-years-old. As the mother of a daughter that same age, I certainly appreciate the fact that my parents knew how important that birthday was and let me celebrate with such a big bash (or what I thought was a big bash at the time).
My parents let me invite a bunch of friends; Dad set up a tent in the backyard; Mom let me pick out my favorite snacks (nacho cheese dorito chips and Dr. Pepper!); and we stayed up late playing "talent show" (imagine a karaoke activity without the karaoke machine) and telling ghost stories and talking about boys.
(By the way: the picture at the top of this post is from that birthday. Soon after this picture was taken of my little brother Christopher giving me a birthday kiss, all of us teenagers threw him out of our tent!)
Over the years, I've had many other wonderful celebrations and, even though some people might consider it a little self-centered, I make sure that we celebrate my birthday every year (in all fairness, I do up everyone else's birthday BIG too!). If we can celebrate for over a week, I consider it an effective accomplishment!
All of this got me to thinking (I do that a lot. I think.)
What is it about birthdays that I love so much?
I do love to open gifts, but for me it's more about the fun of unwrapping something than how big or expensive or whatever it is inside the wrapping paper.
I do love to have people sing "Happy Birthday" to me, but it's more about the people that are singing the song to me. I love to be surrounded by people I care about.
I do love to eat cake and blow out candles and enjoy a celebratory meal, but it's more than just the special treats I get to eat.
When I really analyze why I love celebrating my birthday so much, I guess it comes down to the fact that it makes me feel loved. It means that someone else is glad I'm in the world...that they think there's something about me that is a cause for celebration. Quite simply, it makes me feel good!
I guess some people would call that self-centered or label me as egotistical for thinking such thoughts.
But I won't apologize for it.
I think I make a better wife, mother, daughter, friend, lover, teacher, worker, Christian... whatever role I play in my life...when I am happy with myself. When I realize my value. When I realize that it's okay to celebrate me every once in a while.
Besides, if I apologized for it, I'd have to stop the fun "go out bowling for Cheryl's birthday" tradition, or tell people that "No thank you, I've already had enough cake."
Instead, I'm gonna treasure the memories of celebrations in the past, enjoy the last hour of my birthday today, and look forward to forty-one more years (if I'm lucky enough).